9 answers

Toddler Son Always Slaps Himself in the Head

Hi! My son just turned a year and a half last week. I noticed that he started hitting himself in the head when I tell him "no" or else when he gets into trouble for something...like when I tell him not to throw his food on the floor or tell him "no" so he doesn't turn off the tv or light button. I have no idea where he could have picked up this behavior!!!! But I find it disturbing and embarrassing when he does this, especially when we are out in public. It seems like he does this when he is frustrated or mad. I always gently tell him "no baby, don't do that to yourself please" and pick him up and hug him. But I would really like to know if you think this is normal behavior or not.???? Have you ever heard of this before?? Also, how should I stop him from hitting himself in the head?

What can I do next?

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Well, look at it this way: He hits himself on the head, he gets picked up for a hug. He's not punishing himself ... he's doing what "works" in order to get a type of attention he apparently likes. I'm with the moms who suggested that you stop reacting to this behavior. Just remind him "that's an owie," or whatever you want to say, in a very laid back, non-emotinal way, and then go on with what you're doing. Then, when he does something cute that you DO want him to repeat, pick him up and give him the hug.

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My son did this around that age. I mamasourced about it and was told it was a phase. It was!!!! I think it's a "normal" way to show frustration. He won't hurt himself too badly doing it, and if it does hurt, he'll learn that much sooner that it's not a great idea. Boys are fun, eh?

My daughter did the same thing. It gets worse if you acknowledge it. The best thing to do is just ignore it. It will stop when he finds something else that annoys you enough to get a reaction. :)

My almost 17-month old daughter just started doing the same thing, and I remember my 5 year old doing this, too at that age. It is a phase, and it will pass (Thanks for the reminder on this, though! Up until just now, I had forgotten and was getting worried, too!!)

Well, look at it this way: He hits himself on the head, he gets picked up for a hug. He's not punishing himself ... he's doing what "works" in order to get a type of attention he apparently likes. I'm with the moms who suggested that you stop reacting to this behavior. Just remind him "that's an owie," or whatever you want to say, in a very laid back, non-emotinal way, and then go on with what you're doing. Then, when he does something cute that you DO want him to repeat, pick him up and give him the hug.

You have gotten some great advice, and I just thought I would throw my own experience in here. First, this is a normal developmental step with your son. Keep in mind that children have to learn how to express themselves, and moreover what "feelings" even mean. At this point, your son is probably frustrated with himself and the situations where he hears the word "no" but has no idea how to respond. Like many other moms said, if he gets hugs and comfort after hitting himself, it will teach him it's a good response. Also keep in mind it is more difficult for many boys than girls to learn positive ways to communicate.

What I learned to do with my own son was to calmly and firmly respond by telling my son that when he calmed down, I would be back to talk with him. When he was very young, I would come back a few minutes later when he was calm an read a book to him. I used one by Jamie Lee Curtis that has different emotions on each page with great illustrations. After we read, I asked my son what he felt like when he heard the word no. He went through the pictures an pointed. Then I asked him what he could do when he was angry to help him feel better. I'm sure you get the picture at this point :)

My son is now 5 and we still have conversations at times about how to react when certain situations arise, but overall, he does really well with his frustration and usually comes to talk with me about it or works it out on his own. Sometimes he puts on some toy boxing gloves and hits his pillow (he came up with that on his own) and it helps to physically take his anger out in an appropriate way. Just keep in mind the ultimate goal: we are raising successful adults, so we teach them in small ways now what they have to understand when they are grown. It doesn't all come together at once, so just take it day by day and enjoy him!

mine id the very same thing. once we stopped reacting to it. She stopped smacking her self up side the head. they only want your reaction. no react. no hitting his self.

I was looking on the internet and this is what I found... it looks like pretty good advice..

Toddlers do all sorts of things to themselves when they're frustrated: they bite the backs of their hands, bang their heads, hit themselves, and throw themselves to the ground. Head slapping falls into this category of normal tantrum behavior and is nothing to worry about.

How best to respond? It's helpful to respond to your child's emotions by using the words that describe what you think he is feeling, for example saying: "you're really angry" or "you're very frustrated." Then tell your son gently, "Please don't hurt yourself--I don't like to see anything hurting you" and perhaps hold him gently, so that he feels contained and protected.

Mainly your attitude is what is important, and it should be calm, supportive, and caring. You are teaching your son lessons that he will remember for life. Whenever he faces frustration in the future, he'll call on the memory of the reassuring way you dealt with his tantrums when he was a toddler, and the memory will help him to stay in control of himself. He'll also call on the memory of your supportive, warm response when he has to deal with other people's upsets; it will make him a more empathetic person.

http://www.drspock.com/faq/0,1511,2640,00.html

My son is 2 and does this as well. We tell him "don't hurt/hit the baby" or "that's an owie"...just to remind him that's not acceptable.

It is a phase. We spat his hand at times and have had to stop doing that now as when he gets in trouble, HE'LL spat his hand and say no no...

I can assure you hitting him on the head was NOT a form of discipline we used...ever....but it's still makes you feel unfit when you say...NO NO MILO that's hot...and he automatically starts slapping himself in the head...

Good luck to you.

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